Since 2009, the New Years Test at the SCG has taken on greater meaning and become one of the pinnacle sporting events on the sporting calendar.
When Cricket Australia and the McGrath Foundation joined forces to raise money for Breast Cancer and honour the memory of the late Jane McGrath, The event has grown and continued to grow in stature and meaning for all Sydneysiders and Australians alike, cutting through with both participating countries wearing baggy pink caps and turning their playing tops pink.
As the Fourth Test kicks off between Australia and England in the Pinkest Ashes Test ever, The Inner Sanctum takes a look at the best moments since the test went ‘pink’.
10. David Warner kisses the ground for fallen great mate Phillip Hughes – 2015
It had been a tough summer emotionally for the Australian cricket team. Just two weeks before the summer of cricket was set to kick off in Adelaide against India while playing for South Australia in the Sheffield Shield, Phillip Hughes was struck by a bouncer at the SCG. Tragically, Hughes passed away and the death was felt by the entire cricketing world.
First to his side was Australian opener David Warner, one of Hughes’ closest mates who also sat on the stretcher as Hughes was carted off the field, unbeaten on 63. Fast forward to Day One of the Sydney Test and with Warner batting well, he clipped a ball off his hips for a single, a run that would take him to Hughes’ score. Warner removed his helmet and gloves, walked to the spot where Hughes had fallen just a few short months earlier. It was here he dropped to his knees and kissed the turf in honour of his great mate.
It was a moment of great respect, as the gesture was heartfelt throughout the entire Australian public. While Australia ended up drawing the Sydney test, they did claim a series victory, one which will never be forgotten as the team gained enormous respect.
9. Matt Renshaw goes big for maiden international century- 2016
When Matt Renshaw made his debut against South Africa on the 24th of November back in 2016, he was a fresh-faced 20-year-old opener whose technical game the Australian public instantly fell in love with. With Australia batting first on a batting-friendly SCG pitch, David Warner lit up the SCG with a first-session century, while Renshaw took a back seat role.
However, the following two sessions belonged to the youngster, with Renshaw reaching the first of his milestones, a half-century off 115 balls. His next milestone, soon after, saw him reach three figures off 201 balls.
Renshaw did survive a scare on 137, when Yasir Shah’s appeal for LBW was originally given out, before being overturned via the Decision Review System, which showed Renshaw had edged the ball, prior to it hitting his pad. With a clip off the pads on ball number 254, Renshaw reached 150 on the first day, before being dismissed for 184 on Day 2. The innings which featured 20 boundaries was all class, as the home side claimed victory by 220 runs.
8. Marnus doubles up to complete golden summer – 2020
The test career of Marnus Labuschagne hasn’t exactly been the normal route. Labuschagne made his test debut in October 2018 against Pakistan, and from there had a frustrating time getting his way back into the Australian side. However, after his widely publicised entry to the 2019 Ashes series as Steve Smith’s concussion replacement at Lords, Marnus had well and truly found his place as Australia’s number three, ascending to the top of the ICC Test Batter Rankings to end 2021.
With some big scores in the previous series against Pakistan, as well as the previous matches against New Zealand, it was safe to say he was in good form. However, it was in Sydney that Marnus made his highest score, which still stands. With Australia batting first at the SCG, an early wicket was lost which brought Labuschagne to the crease. Marnus wasted no time getting to work, hitting his second delivery for four, setting the tone with what would be a match-defining innings. Getting to his first three-figure score off 163 balls, he then got to his next set of 50 off 87 balls as he brought up the 150-run milestone. An edge off the bowling of Kiwi Collin de Grandhomme saw Marnus bring up the double century.
The innings, which was a career-defining one for Labuschagne, featured 19 fours and one six. An innings both Labuschagne & the Australian team will be hoping can be replicated in the fourth Ashes Test.
7. England emphatically seals 3-1 series victory down under – 2011
After retaining the Ashes the previous week at the MCG, England was hopeful of completing the job at the SCG and securing a series victory in Australia for the first time since the 1986-87 Ashes series.
Michael Clarke, the stand-in skipper for an injured Ricky Ponting won the toss and elected to bat in overcast conditions. England’s bowlers quickly got to work and had the Australian batsmen in trouble early, swinging the ball both ways as the hosts were bowled out for 280. After rain impacted day one, the second day did belong to Australia adding more to their total and taking early wickets to have England three down at stumps. However, day three was all the tourists. Alistair Cook (189), Matt Prior (118), and Ian Bell (115) all made centuries as England produced a mammoth total of 644, leading by 364 runs.
The second innings for Australia did not go to plan either, with all of the top six batters getting starts, before all being dismissed prior to making half-centuries. Youngster Steve Smith top-scored for Australia with an unbeaten score of 54, with Peter Siddle also making a defiant 43. However, England was ultimately too good with the ball once again, bowling Australia out for 281, defeated by an innings and 83 runs.
6. Michael Hussey and Peter Siddle Day 5 partnership deliver unlikeliest of wins for Australia – 2010
The SCG is not usually recognised for being a green wicket, but it certainly was all the way back in 2010, and when captain Ricky Ponting elected to bat first, eyebrows were raised. The question marks that many had quickly been answered when Australia was bowled out for just 127 in their first innings inside 43 overs.
Pakistan took nicely to the better conditions in their first innings, piling on 333 runs to leave the Australian’s trailing by more than 200 runs. Shane Watson quickly got to work and made a brilliant score of 97, but it was the partnership of Michael Hussey and tailender Peter Siddle that would steal the headlines from this remarkable test match. With Australia staring down the barrel of a series defeat when Siddle came to the crease, the SCG crowd was about to witness something remarkable. Hussey and Siddle piled on 123 runs for the ninth wicket stand as Hussey made 134, and Siddle made 38, but more importantly facing 117 balls as they got Australia to a lead of 175 with about 50 overs left in the test.
With the pitch deteriorating, Nathan Hauritz then got to work with the ball in the final innings, taking five wickets to help dismiss Pakistan for 139, giving the hosts the unlikeliest 36-run victory in front of their home fans.
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5. David Warner races to a hundred before lunch– 2016
In the summer of 2015/16, Australia took on both New Zealand and Pakistan. However, the moment that stole the headlines for that summer came from David Warner’s magical first session century back in 2016 against Pakistan.
Australia who were in fine form, holding a 2-0 series lead after victories to the home side at the Gabba and the MCG, the series was already wrapped up coming into Sydney. Warner was full of confidence and struck the ball beautifully in the opening session. With a late cut to bring up a half-century, off just 42 deliveries, it was evident that Warner had one thing on his mind. To score as many runs as he could, and quickly. This appeared to be nowhere near enough for Warner, who continued striking the ball for fun, racing to three figures off just 78 balls.
As the man with the nickname of pocket rocket jumped for the skies in his iconic jumping celebration, all the people of Sydney could do was applaud as Australia’s opener created history as the opener became the first cricketer on Australian soil with a century in the first session.
Warner, who was dismissed shortly after for 113 off 95 deliveries was rightfully applauded from the field as the SCG crowd witnessed 17 boundaries in the record-breaking innings.
4. Australia completes second whitewash of England inside three days – 2014
On the back of a three consecutive lost Ashes series in a row, including losing at home just three years earlier, Australia wanted to bounce back and set about doing so with a dominant home summer against England in the summer of 2013. Coming into the Sydney match, the Aussies were in control, holding a 4-0 series lead. The Australian side knew they had unfinished business, and were hungry to win 5-0.
After losing the toss and being sent into bat by England captain Alistair Cook, The Aussies lost a few early wickets, but it was a young Steve Smith, who in his home state, stole the show in the first innings with 115, leaving Australia with a first innings score of 326.
England began day two with one wicket down, opener Michael Carberry the batter dismissed the previous evening. Captain Michael Clarke resorted to his three pace bowlers in Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris & Peter Siddle to help dismiss the English side, as they had done for the entire summer. Each picking up three wickets, the pace trio left England reeling as they were dismissed for 155, trailing by 171 runs on the first innings.
When Australia went back into bat, they were not finished with their flurry of runs for the summer. Opener Chris Rogers made his second century on the trot, finishing up with 119 and giving his side a 447 run lead. Australia then got to work with the ball, dismissing England for just 166, with veteran quick Ryan Harris taking five wickets. The victory completed a 5-0 series win for the Australian’s as they regained the urn and completed an incredible summer in front of their home fans.
3. Marsh brothers celebrate centuries – 2018
In 2018, the Marsh brothers of Mitch & Shaun celebrated centuries and produced the funniest moment of the summer for Australian fans in the process. After gaining a test recall prior to the Ashes series, Shaun silenced his critics with an unbeaten score of 126 at the Adelaide Oval. Fully re-establishing himself as the man to hold down the number five position in the Australian batting line-up.
Mitch, however, was called into the side ahead of the third Test at the WACA, at the number six position. Mitch wasted no time regaining the faith of the Australian public on his way to a magnificent score of 181. Shaun batted confidently in the first innings and brought up 50 with a brilliant square drive. It was Mitch who was up next for a milestone, reaching his half-century off just 64 deliveries. When Shaun drove through the covers on 98, he brought up his sixth test match century. However, the moment that stole all the headlines from the summer was when Mitch raised the bat for a hundred, and he and Shaun hadn’t yet completed the run!
With the brothers celebrating, cameras turned to the Australian captain Steve Smith who was frantically shouting at the pair. The moment of panic, turned to joy as the brothers embraced on their way to helping Australia claim victory by more than an innings, capping off another dominant summer.
2. Michael Clarke re-writes the record books on his way too 329* – 2012
When Michael Clarke came to the crease against India in January of 2012, little did the SCG know it was about to see a history-making performance from the Australian skipper.
India was bowled out for 191 in their first innings, and Australia was on the ropes at 3/37 when the captain strode to the middle. Wasting no time getting started, Clarke smashed through the covers and got his innings underway with a boundary. Clarke would smash an incredible 39 fours throughout the innings, as well as one six. It was simply, textbook batting. For a long period of time, many opposing nations struggled with Indian bowling, however, Clarke had other ideas. This was mainly due to his magnificent footwork when coming down the pitch which enabled him to powerfully drive down the ground, allowing him to hit the high number of boundaries that he did.
Throughout the innings, Clarke broke records for fun. His triple century was the seventh by an Australian, the first at the SCG, and the second-highest from an Australian captain. Clarke declared, unbeaten on 329, the highest individual score ever at the SCG with his side on 4/659 after facing a remarkable 468 deliveries. Australia would go on to win by more than an innings, in what was a sensational victory.
1. Graeme Smith’s courage on show in first-ever pink Test– 2009
In the first-ever pink test match at the SCG, the people of Sydney witnessed one of the most courageous performances of all time from South African batsman Graeme Smith.
With Australia piling on 445 runs in their first innings, mainly due to a century from Michael Clarke, the South African’s had their work cut out for them if they wanted to secure a result in the third test. With the South African’s at just 34 runs in their first innings, captain Graeme Smith received a short ball from fast bowler Mitchell Johnson which hit his glove and ultimately broke his hand.
Smith would retire hurt, with most assuming his test match was all but over. However, fast forward three days later and on the final session of day five, Smith, with less than 20 minutes of game time left, defied all odds and came out to bat in an act of courage that would stun the cricketing world.
With Dale Steyn dismissed, most assumed the test match was over, however, when loud cheers began to emanate from the SCG and the cameras turned to Smith as he was coming down the stairs and onto the SCG. With just over 30 minutes until stumps, Smith set about securing the most unlikely of draws for his nation.
Barely able to hold the bat, and having faced 17 deliveries, the Australians were nervous until an in-swinger from Mitchell Johnson cannoned into the stumps and Smith was eventually dismissed. Six minutes before Stumps and the match would be called. The innings showed great courage and in the first pink test, showed a sign of things to come at a brilliant cricket venue.
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